I just can't have a pet I decided...

I got a cat. Well more like one of my neighbors brought me a cat in a sack of rice. So I tried to give it a chance. We put it in a cage so we can take it to my house. It was so angry it kept spitting and trying to scratch me (Clue #1 I shouldn't have a cat). So we got it in the cage then it escaped through a hole (Clue #2) and my neighbors caught it again and fixed the hole. I took it to my house and let it free, I don't like to see animals tied up. I thought maybe after a few days it would warm up to me and love me. I was wrong. (Clue #3). The cat still hissed and tried to scratch me every chance it got. Now I was living with a creature who not only hated me and pooped everywhere but stressed me out and brought me grief (Clue#4).

Bye cat.

I let it loose outside and she stayed around for a couple of days but lately I have not seen her. I didn't completely abandon her, I bought cat food and set it out for her to eat but I have not seen her in a couple of days. There are a lot of other cats in my neighborhood that I think may have adopted her which is much better than me. I really just wanted a cat to love and to feel loved and this cat did not do it for me. I obviously was not ready to be a parent and I am fine with that.

Bye cat. rawr.

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White Water Rafting (aka when I almost died)

To celebrate our 1 year mark (yet again) a group of us volunteers decided to do something extreme. Haha. The most extreme things I do are ride my bike and go for runs so white water rafting seemed like it was really out there. Initially I thought sure, I can do this. I am an athlete and I know how to swim so this should be no problem. Most of the time when I decide to do stuff like this I try not to give it too much thought. If I do, I might just freak myself out and decide not to do it and I will regret it in the end so I try to just say yeah and go with the flow.

So we were off to the rapids!

To begin, the guides here in the Dominican Republic almost never completely know english so there is always a language barrier as far as relaying important instructions on safety etc. Ah... whatever I can do this, I didn't completely understand him but I think he said don't fall out. Ok don't fall out. Easy...

First rapid, boom fell out of the raft. Hahaha. I was all laughs and smiles as I tried to pull my fat butt back in the raft. Ok don't fall out anymore.

The next few rafts were easy I was holding on pretty good then we approached a raft the guide called 'Mike Tyson'. Mike Tyson, the boxer? I wonder why?

Mike Tyson pretty much almost killed me. The rapid consisted of 2 falls in which of course I fell off on the first fall. Trying to pull myself back in the raft, the raft kept moving forward which meant on the next fall the raft went completely on top of me. Heather later told me she was screaming at the group "We're on top of her!" Underwater I remember tumbling pushing my hands underneath the raft thinking "And this is when I die, maybe I should have thought this one through..." Finally in what seemed like an hour, I broke the water with the eyes of helpless death upon me. Seconds later a guide jumped in the water to help me as I breathed in and out panicked that i forgot how to swim. As soon as I got in the raft I decided that I was not having the best time of my life as I thought it would be. Other volunteers were congratulating me and telling me I was having "the real experience" but I say bullcrap, I almost died. :)

The rest of the rapids I sat in the raft holding on for dear life. Thank god there was not another Mike Tyson and the rest of the ride was pretty smooth.

Upon getting back to camp, I just wanted to forget the whole thing but of course the guides revealed that they had taped our whole trip and were showing the video at lunch. I got myself a large, strong rum and coke and watched this video of our trip with 30 other participants as everyone echoed woes and sounds of pain as they watched me get pummeled by the raft. It was funny I have to admit and I now have soemthing else checked off on this DR Bucket list. Needless to say, I won't be doing this again.

Surely this was taken after Mike Tyson. I do not look like I am having fun.

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The DR Bucket list...

Since I am passing the one year mark (I know you guys are tired of hearing me talk about it) I decided to make a DR Bucket list that has a series of many things I want to do and experience here in the Dominican Republic.

From now on, I am going to set up my blog in this format. I am going to post only things from this list (so my blog can be more interesting).

Here we go!

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I dedicate this one to my enamorado...

Enamorados: People that are crazy infatuated and obsessed with someone and will NOT stop calling/stalking/passing by your house until he/she receives your attention/affection. This is also mostly for show to the other people they know, kind of like "hey look at me, I bagged the Americana".

Yeah I have an enamorado. I won't disclose too much info on him but I definitely felt that as part of my Peace Corps experience I had to write a blog post dedicated to the one and only because of how much he has affected my service. This guy claims he fell in love at first sight. He called me about 10 times a day just to know if I ate, just to know exactly where I am, just to know if I am okay or if I need help or need a ride somewhere. He would pass by my house constantly just to see if I am home or if I will come out to chat with him. He got close to another nearby volunteer who gave him advice in obtaining my "love".

"Don't call her so much"
"But I want her to know that I want to talk to her"
"She knows this because she has caller ID and she sees that you have called her 20 times"
"But she wont pick up the phone"
"Because you call her too much. Buy her pineapples, she likes that."

I am not going to lie, I have embraced (not kissed just appreciated) this person in my life as a commodity. With this person I got free rides anywhere I needed to go, he would do me favors, he would buy me fruit, he was just super convenient to have around. I have communicated to this person (pretty much every time we talk) that I am not interested in him nor will I ever be interested. I only want to be friends and no, not the kid with benefits either. But as I have learned, Dominicans are ridiculously persistent (I wish they were this persistent in my projects) so he still insists that he will one day be my boyfriend and conquer my heart. He is out of his mind.

I really do consider this person a really close friend of mine. In my time here, he has been one of those people that I know I can count on to do whatever I need to do. We have been fishing, flying kites, hiking, seeing new places out on moto rides, cooking, baking, dancing, the list goes on. Things I pretty much should not do with a boy. These are things I would do in the states with my guy friends and know that there is nothing wrong because there is no interest but here in the Dominican Republic, things do not work this way. There are no boy friends. All boys want to get with you if they even look at you. While doing all of these activities, I have not tried to show this person that I am interested in dating them. I just felt good about having a friend that I can do these activities with. But, I know that he did not interpret my actions this way. Just spending time with him was telling him that I was accepting his offer. My mouth is saying "No" but to him my actions are saying "Yes". So now, I had to cut the cord on our relationship because I realized it was not benefiting me in the end. People in the neighborhood were spreading rumors and his enamorada attacked him because he was dancing with me (that was pretty much when I knew our friendship was over). :(

I can admit that at one point of time he was one of my best friends. But due to the cultural differences and my personal security I have diminished communication with my enamorado so as to not affect me or my work in my site.

Enamorados can be fun but you definitely have to be careful with their intentions, their history and how it will affect you in the future. As a Peace Corps volunteer, you are put somewhere to serve in that community for 2 years. Sometimes you can get lonely (2 years is a long time when thinking about romance and relationships) but you can't forget about how you are affecting the community and how the community views you.

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Being a Volunteer Without a Computer...


My mac recently just decided to take a poop. Well I have had it for a long time and the battery wasn't even working (I had to be connected to the wall outlet in order for it to work), and since the electricity is so sketch here, when the luz se fue's it took my computer with it :( . So now I am one of those volunteers without a computer. I have no excuse to do real work other than not having a computer to do computer work.

Having a lap top in the Peace Corps has its many benefits. 1. You have the convenience of working at home. 2. You also have the convenience of having all of your stuff saved and accessible whenever you need it. 3. You can use your computer as a tool to stay sane and get away from the DR life (ie. watch American tv, movies, workout videos etc...).

I have to admit, I really miss my laptop (volunteer friends are working to help fix this situation) but at the same time it has helped me stop being lazy and forces me to get out of my house and work in the computer lab. So maybe it was a good thing in a sense?

(This does however give me an excuse to my lack of blog updates!)

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No more teaching for me!


Ahhhhh... I have finally reached that point in Peace Corps where I finally feel comfortable enough to say "No" and discontinue teaching. It only took a year of worrying, learning, planning, stressing, yelling, crying, laughing, and screaming. Haha. It's been a looooong year.

I started these classes with the intentions of 1. meeting new people in the community and 2. finding ways to make the sustainable. Needless to say I have met so many great people in my classes young and old. It really is a great tool to meet people because they respect you and they will remember you long after they skip your classes, haha. (My gradation was this past week and my students were so cute that they got me a plaque. A plaque. How awesome is that? This is a prime example of the contacts you make and how much the stress and tears are worth it in the end.) As far as sustainability, my computer classes sadly did not continue but my english classes, gracias a dios, will continue with a superb, replacement teacher. Nilka is a Jehova's Witness from Puerto Rico who will be continuing my english classes to help her pay for her living expenses to continue her religious work in the DR. She rocks.

My english class made me a plaque. Sooooo nice.
To be honest, after doing all these classes I have figured out that I am an okay teacher but my only flaw is patience. Patience is super crucial for teachers so you can see how this wasn't working out for me. I always needed to prepare and have options available for my students, I always had resources for them, made sure I didn't dress bad, made sure I was on time but I just couldn't handle it when I had to repeat myself 10 times or when I saw that people weren't learning. It was hard for me. Not everyone is perfect so I am glad I have decided to end my classes and continue with my youth groups which are basically classes but not so formal and not that much prep work. I am just glad that I can say I did it. I did it, I lived it, it's over and let's move on to bigger and better things.

I am coming up on my one year mark (as a volunteer) and I feel like my time here is starting to count down. I am having to fill out my VRF (volunteer reporting form) which basically asks for all the info and data of everything that you have done. I have done 2 computer classes, an english class, some teacher training, and I have 2 youth groups. My work with the liceo (high school) has not been completed (which is sad, cause its the purpose of me being here) and I have a lot of other side projects that I want to develop before I leave (literacy, art group, boys group, basketball court). 

In retrospect I feel like I have been really busy. I was having to go to the high school everyday and teach my classes in another location, stay late for my youth groups, attend and plan conferences and on top of all this do various design projects on the side for everyone in Peace Corps. Literally. Everyone. But I am not complaining, I love to be busy. I love being asked to do design work (since I am not really using it anywhere else in my site other than my youth group) because I love to feel needed and useful. But as much as I do love to feel important the one year mark really is the time to stop being important and start passing that torch to other people. Nilka will be saving me so much strife by doing something she is good at and saving me from having to do it. It's not even like I have to do it either. It's this feeling of "crap everyone wants these classes I have to give these classes" that I am glad I can shake off. I have to admit there is a feeling of loss when you don't do these things anymore and they don't need you anymore but I guess thats the point of Peace Corps; creating sustainable projects. 

So now I have to think about how I will be remembered in my town. I've only done projects that are learning based, meaning, there is nothing physical that I have brought to my town. I feel like I've done a lot to teach my community but because there is nothing physical I know if I left today people would say I didn't do anything and the reason is because I haven't physically donated something. So the majority of my focus for the year is going to be on developing my school lab, building a library in my liceo and a basketball court in another escuela. Physical properties that are necessary. We shall see how this goes.

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Grita Week


Gringo Grita is a volunteer publication made by volunteers for volunteers. It is a really cool opportunity for me, a graphic designer, to showcase my many talents of laying out and using Adobe programs and also my cool tablet. Hehe. But more than that, it's a full week of hanging with volunteers in the capital as we organize COS (close of service) surveys, edit cool articles and drawings by talented volunteers and create a 60 page magazine with stuff we think other volunteers would like to read or look at. I participated in working with the magazine in the Fall of last year and I have the pleasure of working on it again this past week for the Spring issue. I am happy to announce that my pal Justin Seiter is the new editor, yay! And I will continue serving until I leave. I love being able to design something here in a place where design doesn't matter. I was really worried in the beginning of my service that I would lose my edge with design coming to the Peace Corps but I am happy to be able to showcase my talents or at least just use these programs so I don't forget how to add a stroke or put in a drop shadow. I believe the grita will will be out for release in late May or maybe June but I am excited!
Here is last years cover picture. It's an iphone with apps for everything you need in the DR...

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